Please don’t kill the bugs

I have a neighbor who is a little bit funny about his yard. He pays someone to come dump various chemicals on it every few weeks, and whenever he spots more than a few insects, he pulls out the Sevin and starts dumping pesticide all over the place.

He’s not really particularly bright, but he’s a pleasant enough neighbor, and I try to keep peace with my neighbors, no matter how much I think they are doing the wrong thing.

His war against the insects is one of those things that seems so wrong to me. I am of quite the opposite persuasion. I don’t particularly like bugs, but I accept that most of them have a genuine useful purpose in the great scheme of things … at least the non-invasive, native types. And I have a policy on bug control.

My policy is simple: inside belongs to me, and actually, so does a part  of the outside … but as long as they stay outside and do not dedicate their efforts to getting inside and taking over, they can live outside, undisturbed by me. In fact, if a non-pest happens to find his/her way inside, I’ll scoop it up in a big plastic cup and relocate it back outside. Everyone makes mistakes, even bugs.

I remember as a kid, there used to be so many fireflies. Now, I see very few, and I have read articles that say that, in part, the overuse of pesticides by homeowners (and fertilizers containing pesticides) has reduced the populations of these marvelous insects, and many more beneficial species.

I don’t know where the “it’s a bug, I must kill it” attitude comes from. But I sure encourage everyone to try to find a more tolerant place in their hearts. If you have a wasp nest, even if you are allergic, you don’t have to destroy them. They really aren’t interested in you … they are serving an important function in preying on insect pests. If you have kids and are worried, teach them to respect nature, and not throw rocks into the nest … getting along with other living things is a tremendous virtue. Killing things that annoy us is not a particularly good life lesson.

Live and let live. There is a lot of wisdom in those words. Please think about it, before you grab that can of Presto Bug Killer.


How I Quit Smoking

Shortly after I turned the big 4-0, I awoke one day to find I was feeling a pain in my right lung. I had been smoking menthol cigarettes, 1-2 packs per day, for nearly 25 years at that point. I worked out several times per week, alternating aerobic and strength training. I figured, as a smoker, it was important and maybe helped my body deal with the bad effects of smoking. This is what I now know is called, “silly thinking.”

Anyway, there was this pain, and as I was dipping my toes into middle age, I realized it was time that I quit smoking. I had tried it once. When I was 20 or so, and had only been smoking 5 years. It seemed impossible at that time. The urges were too strong. However, in the ensuing years, researchers developed nicotine replacement therapy, which was available first, by prescription, then later over-the-counter. By the time I decided to quit, availability was over-the-counter.

Basically, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. Some recommend that you do that … make announcements, plan for the big day, etc. I told myself that I’d just give it a try, that whole quitting thing. No pressure.

I got my nicotine patches, and started with them. I wore the strongest patch first, as it recommended. I found that I didn’t want to smoke as much. Hmmm. Working pretty well so far.

I continued with the patches, and smoking only when the urge was too strong to resist. However, about 2 weeks into the program of using the patches, I had an allergic skin reaction to them. I awoke in the middle of night, feeling pretty sick, heart racing, stomach churning, and developed red welts in the last 4-5 locations where the patches had been applied to my skin. I think the adhesive was the issue … I have since that time had big problems with any sort of medical adhesives. I think they caused this inflammation and allowed too much nicotine to get into my system, and I had a mild overdose of nicotine that night I described.

So, not near completion of the patch program, unfortunately I had to discontinue it, but good news, the nicotine gum was available. So I stopped smoking at that time, and used the gum for a couple of weeks when the strongest urges hit. They were not frequent.

That’s the physical side.

The more important, and possibly more difficult battle, is the emotional one. They say to avoid triggers. What, don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t talk on the phone? This was before the Internet … that was how you communicated. Scratch those recommendations.

For me, the real tricks of being successful were in programming success.

Every time I had an urge to smoke, I said, either aloud or whispered (depending on where I was): RIght now I really want to smoke. But I CHOOSE not to. (What does this do? It acknowledges reality — trying to tell yourself that you don’t want to smoke only empowers the cigarettes. Acknowledging the urge gives ME the power, as does the follow-up statement — that I CHOOSE not to smoke.)

When I had the urge to smoke, I also told myself this: Whether I smoke or do not smoke right now, it will not be enough. It will never be enough … it will not make me not want to smoke. Smoking will only satisfy the urge momentarily. It will be back again. (That helped me realize that smoking is a short term series of little satisfactions, but it never provided long-term satisfaction.)

After a short time of not smoking, I realized 2 important things:

  1. I was just like those people I saw huddled outside smoking. They are, and I was, an addict. Smoking was just like sticking a needle into my arm to give me the drug I needed. I often told myself I smoked because I loved the taste. I realized that was self-serving rationalization. I smoked because my body needed nicotine.
  2. Smokers stink. I could smell them each time I walked past them … and I realized I used to stink too. What a nasty smell. Smokers can’t smell it on themselves.

Frankly, I was surprised that it was not as hard to quit as I remembered from my attempt 20 years previously. I think the main difference was that during those 20 years, I lived. When you live, you gain experience in dealing with adversity, you gain strength, you gain the ability to make choices and stand by them.

One lady I knew, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, was headed outside to smoke. She had just revealed the cancer. I said, “So why are you still smoking?” “Oh,” she said, “I’m just not ready to quit.” I told her what I had discovered … you are never “ready.” There is never a good time. There will always be stress at work, a partner that you argue with, a sick relative, final exams, debt, worry about affording the new itoy, whatever. There will always be adversity. Cigarettes do not obliterate adversity. They only add to the burden: the cost, the toll on one’s health, the augmenting odds of serious disease as the years pass.

Anyway, that’s my story about quitting smoking. Hopefully, someone can glean something useful from it.

Good luck!

Trouble Falling Asleep? Try Crabseye’s Patented Techniques

We all have those nights, from time to time, when we just can’t fall asleep. For me, it often happens before a day with a big event scheduled, or after a day when a big event occurred. Regardless of the cause, many of us barely get sufficient sleep most of the time, and so lying there wasting precious sleep time only tends to increase the anxiety, which makes it even harder to fall asleep.

Over the years, Crabseye has developed a handful of techniques that, when combined, can usually put even the most tenacious insomnia at bay. It works best for me to go in order with these techniques, but feel free to experiment to find the order that works best for you.

Ready? Off we go, then.

  1. Regulate your breathing. Oxygen is nature’s wonderful, free Xanax. Some of the experts recommend a 4-7-8 count for breathing to induce relaxation (inhale for a measured count of 4, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 8). Personally, that just irritates me. I like to inhale for a slow count of 2, exhale for a slow count of 2, and repeat until I’m ready to focus on the next technique.
  2. Progressive relaxation. I start with my toes, wiggle them for a couple of seconds, and tell them to relax. Then I move to my metatarsals, then my ankles, then my achilles tendons, then my shins, and so on. There is no hurry to get finished here. Take your time to focus on every body part you can name, and make it relax and go limp. If you don’t know specific body part names, just talk to that specific area (e.g., backs of thighs, lower back, etc.).
  3. Sometimes I’m asleep before I get to my internal organs. However, if necessary …
  4. Count backwards from 100 to 0. (This one, along with regulated breathing, gets me through the occasional anxiety attack.) Repeat a few times if needed.
  5. Become aware of your feet. Are they cold? Concentrate on making them warm with the power of your mind. Again, don’t be in a hurry, and don’t focus on achieving the goal … focus on making this process work.
  6. The last technique is: relax your eye muscles. Let your eyes roll up. Don’t tense the muscles to make them look up … relax them. (This technique is the slam-dunk of the process, but don’t go to it too soon … work through the other techniques to get to a relaxed enough state that you’ll just slip into sleep when you get to the eye part.)

There are lots of other random things that work for people: cold shower then quickly get into bed and get warm (the abrupt temperature change often induces drowsiness); melatonin; glass of warm milk; sex; reading. And, of course, pharmaceuticals. Those I avoid unless they’re absolutely necessary.

Hopefully you’ll find Crabseye’s not-really-patented techniques helpful if you ever have trouble falling asleep.

Rosemary + Garlic Roasted Potatoes

I think the humble potato may be one of my favorite foods. There are so many yummy things to do with them … potato chips (US), french fries (US) / chips (UK), mashed potatoes, and today’s topic, roasted potatoes. This recipe is quite easy to prep, is forgiving of small errors, and you can substitute many flavoring choices if you don’t have something available.

So let’s get to it. I originally found this on, but have adapted it to my own preferences.


  • potatoes (I like small red potatoes, but Yukon golds work well too, or whatever kind you can get; and I prefer organic potatoes because this vegetable is pretty heavily sprayed in the US)
  • garlic cloves (can substitute garlic salt or minced garlic)
  • fresh rosemary (can substitute dried, or parsley)
  • olive oil (I like organic EVOO, but you can substitute canola oil or a flavored oil if you like)


  1. Wash potatoes, remove unsightly spots. If you’ve bought organic potatoes, leave the skins on, but make sure you have scrubbed them well.
  2. Cut them to desired size. (Smaller will cook faster, but some people like larger pieces.)
  3. Rinse again in water to remove some of the starch.
  4. Blot the moisture with a clean dishtowel (they don’t have to be bone-dry, just get most of the water).
  5. Allow 2-3 of the small red potatoes (golfball size) per person … maybe 3-4 for guys, add a few for extras.
  6. Put them all in a big bowl.
  7. Pour in some oil. No need to measure, just make sure they’re all lightly coated with oil. Something with a high smoke point (canola, grapeseed) is good, or olive oil works too if you don’t crank the heat too high.
  8. Add rosemary. You can use dried or fresh. With fresh herb, you would want a little more herb; with dried, a little less, since the flavor tends to be more concentrated. (Personally, I hate dried rosemary, but if it’s all I have, that’s what I will use.)
  9. Add garlic. If you don’t have fresh cloves, you can use garlic salt. Don’t go overboard. If you use fresh, I’d dice them up. If you use garlic salt, go light because there tends to be more salt than garlic.
  10. Mix it all up for a bit.
  11. Put on a baking sheet in 1 layer.
  12. Bake at 350-375 for 20-30 minutes.
  13. Flip once with a spatula while roasting.
  14. If you cut the potato chunks large, they’ll need a little more time … check them at 30 and add some time if needed. If you cut small pieces, they can be done in about 20 minutes. Use the higher temp if you like yours a little browner, lower for less browned.
  15. Give them a stab with a fork at the low end of the time range to check … they’ll be ready just as they start to get soft-ish.


Baking Soda to the Rescue … Again

Now, I want to go on record as being a firm believer in evidence-based, traditional medicine. I believe in large-scale, multi-center, randomized clinical trials … staked my life on it once, and I’m still here to tell of it.

I also believe that there are home remedies that work, and I’m also a firm believer in using what works.

Several times over the last few years, I’ve been stung by wasps. Fortunately, I was in my own yard, and immediately made my way to the kitchen.

I mixed a bit of baking soda with water to make a paste, and applied the paste right to the sting spot. I left the paste on the sting area for about 10 minutes. Then I rinsed it off.

The stinging sensation was gone, and there was only a small red spot where the stinger had pierced the skin.

Powerful magic, that baking soda.

Sometimes, not frequently, I use it to brush my teeth. It’s a good abrasive, but my teeth are a bit sensitive, so I don’t push it with overuse.

The other day, I noticed a very irritating sore right on the end of my tongue. I couldn’t even see anything, but doggone I sure could feel it. Eating was downright painful … you just don’t realize how much you use the end of your tongue to move food around. After suffering a few days, and wondering why this thing wasn’t going away, I decided to try some things. Peroxide on a swab … nope, not much help. Listerine on a swab … sorry, try again. I decided to not use toothpaste last night (something I read said that the detergents in toothpaste can irritate any mouth sores) as I brushed my teeth. My mental light bulb went off and I decided to make that magic baking soda paste and pack it over the sore on my tongue while I was brushing. Then I rinsed it all out upon completion.

Lo and behold, when I awoke this morning, the sore was almost completely gone. About 80% gone … just a little tiny bit sore still.

I can’t attest to any other magical cures, like curing cancer (personally, I opted for more conventional treatments there, myself), but if my anecdote is worth at least as much as they next person’s, then next time you get a bee sting (for those who are NOT allergic to bees) or mouth sore, do give the baking soda treatment a try.

Fast, yummy egg sandwich

I literally did not eat eggs as a food until a couple of years ago, when some medication I was taking changed how foods tasted to me and I needed some alternative protein sources to get me through the experience. Once I started eating eggs, and well past the medication days, I’ve stuck with the little clucker gems, and today I wanted to share with you my favorite alternative weekend lunch, an easy, fast egg sandwich.

The trick to this sandwich is using a spice blend to add a tremendous amount of flavor easily. In the US, Mrs. Dash makes several varieties of spice blends, and all do a fantastic job of spicing things up. Trader Joes has a very similar 21-Season Salute that works great. And McCormick’s Spices has a number of spice blends in grinder bottles, for a more fresh-ground flavor. It’s good to have several different blends handy, so you can have a different taste profile from one time to the next.


  • 1 large egg (I like farm fresh eggs, preferably organic, but I’ll go with local non-organic that I know are fresh over weeks-old organic ones in the store)
  • Your favorite spice blend
  • 1 slice of your favorite cheese
  • 1 slice of a hearty bread (I like Trader Joe’s pane, but any freshly baked bread, even from the grocery store bakery, will work)
  • Fork
  • Glass bowl
  • Paper plate
  • Toaster
  • Microwave


  1. Cut the bread slice in half, and put into the toaster. You’ll prep the rest as the bread is toasting.
  2. Crack the egg and place the contents in the glass bowl. Mix up thoroughly with fork.
  3. Remove your cheese from the refrigerator if that’s where it is, so it can warm up a bit while the bread is toasting.
  4. Sprinkle the spice blend over the surface of the mixed egg, so that the whole surface is lightly sprinkled with spice blend. Handle carefully after this, or the spice blend will tend to glom up into clumps.
  5. When there are about 2 minutes remaining on the toast operation, place the egg / bowl into the microwave. (Most toaster ovens take about 7 minutes to lightly toast a slice of bread … actual toasters are faster though.)
  6. Cover bowl with a paper plate.
  7. Cook on power level 9 for about 1 minute 20 seconds (this is right for ~1000-watt microwave).
  8. When the toast is done, remove from the toaster.
  9. Compose the sandwich by placing your cheese on the hot bread to make it melty, then place the hot egg onto the cheese, and the other half of the bread on top of that.

Enjoy. It’s quite yummy.

If you’re a guy, you’ll probably want to double all portions  🙂